Duty And Selflessness
People are often faced with dilemmas in accomplishing their duties while at the same time acting ethically. Indeed, Dalai Lamas’ lives have had several instances when they considered the moral imperative over self greatness even when the choices available were quite confusing. In these instances, they lived up to the moral expectations of love for one’s neighbors and non neighbors. This explains the popularity of Dalai Lama XIV’s quotes on selflessness like “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them” (Dalai Lama XIV).
In Buddhism, the idea of moral imperative is given a significant consideration in all spheres of life. This appears clearly in Arjuna’s consideration of morality. Faced with a prospect of a war where he is viewed as the main fighter by his clan, he opts out of it despite his side having been provoked. One would expect that Arjuna would not hesitate to go into the war in order to prove his worth for the clan by defeating the enemy since he could do it. However, this does not happen as he is drawn back by the prospects of a fatal war which he would not be able to stop. He understands that this war will cause several deaths, both to his people and the opponents. Essentially, his morals deterred him from taking part in a course that would cause disservice to humanity. From the teachings of Dalai Lama, it is clear he would have done the same. For example, he insists that “All poor, all rich, no different” implying that he would have cared about the death of his people and their enemies alike. This is a clear lesson learnt from the life and teachings of Buddhism (Tischler, page 96).
The idea of selflessness transcends across all aspects of the Buddhist community. According to literature, most teachers intentionally get to class late just to test students’ patience. Besides, students are taught to act beyond their individual comfort, think more about others than they think about themselves. In this particular example, teachers intend to make students sacrifice their own comfort, feel some anxiety and view the situation as an acceptable sacrifice. Most often, Dalai Lama did this in religious gatherings until people began to wonder if indeed he would eventually appear. In some instances, he would arrive late, remove his shoes and sit pretty even as the audience waits impatiently for him to start his address. Later on, he would remind them that patience is a virtue that humans should embrace for the common good of humanity. These certainly helped people to put others beyond themselves and feel the obligation to make some painful personal sacrifices. Dalai Lama insists that in every duty ahead and in every instance of adversity that faced, people should see an opportunity to do good (Tischler, page 93).
According to Buddhism, humans cannot evade taking any actions because actions that one takes define his or her personality. It gives the example of the yogi who has to become beggars in order to find food. However, the probable consequences of one’s actions must first be considered so that one is not committed to the endless cycle of rebirth. In this regard, Arjuna could not act based on only the motives of the considered duty, but also on social moral imperatives (Tischler, page 45).
In conclusion, humans cannot avoid taking actions in their entire lives. However, they should avoid actions that may compromise their morals for the sake of humanity. The culture of Buddhism and the teachings of Dalai Lamas emphasize the need other people’s interests beyond one’s own interests while undertaking any duties.
Tischler L. Henry, Introduction to Sociology, Thomson Learning, 2004.